Jim James Presents ‘Uniform Clarity’ In Conversation & Performance


We have a chance – right now – to get involved and change history. To put an end to the seemingly endless cycles of war and racism that continue to divide and conquer us as a people. We have a chance to heal the wounds of slavery and injustice to the native peoples created when America was born by opening our arms and our hearts and using the power of our voice and our vote to say we are tired of this cycle happening OVER and OVER again … We want a new cycle. A life cycle more in tune with nature than constantly against it. One of peace. We want freedom. We want equality. We want love, and we want it NOW.”

Jim James

When I read the above Jim James quote after watching his video for “Over And Over” on YouTube, it felt like his Uniform Distortion solo album had something deeper to get across. With the companion album Uniform Clarity the noise is removed and it’s just Jim, a guitar and his voice. It’s saying something bigger about the current state of our society and seems to nod toward the folk heroes of the past, from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan. I asked if Jim would come down and talk about the album and what it’s saying, and I was honored that he traveled to San Francisco to sit down and discuss what it means to be a citizen (to start: vote in every election).

We ended up shooting in three locations, in Sausalito on the Drown Road trail, then at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, across from San Francisco’s City Hall, and lastly at Light Rail Studios, in Bayview. Jim performed solo acoustic versions of “Over And Over,” “You Get To Rome” and “Throwback” through rays of sunshine, while hawks flew above Drown Creek trail near Cavallo Battery in Sausalito. Moving on to BGCC, James performed “Here In Spirit” and talked about the importance of voting, then we grabbed coffee and headed to the studio for a conversation.

Uniform Clarity In Conversation & Performance Part 1

The goal was to talk about change without talking about politics. To do so, we removed politics, names of political parties and the names of presidents from the discussion, and instead focused on the human connection, bridging the vast chasm, and finding a middle ground.

Jim said a few times that people have more in common than they know. He stressed that if we would just sit down to a meal with someone who has different views on the president we would find something other than that to connect on. In this day and age, where people have scrubbed their social feeds from the views of the “other side” — how do we even have a civil discourse? This problem will take effort to solve, and it’s time to talk about it.

Over Jim’s last few albums, you could hear the call to action in the music, and I asked him about the chorus from “Here In Spirit,” from his 2016 solo album Eventually Even in which he sings, “if you don’t speak out, we can’t hear it.”

Uniform Clarity In Conversation & Performance Part 2

“I just feel like it’s the classic quote, ‘If you stay silent, you are part of the problem,’” James said. “If you see people suffering, if you see kids being ripped away from their parents and don’t say anything or do anything, you are part of the problem. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you are a carpenter or a musician, we all have to speak out.”

If there was a goal for the day, it was to tell anyone who would listen to vote and to vote with their hearts. We talked about what with voting your heart means, finding ways to talk to the other side and how to educate yourself on the issues, what’s real and what’s a disguise. He spoke truth to the camera, and the footage will be used for short videos on sites like Instagram or Headcount.org, to get people around the country to register to vote and be aware of what’s at stake.

From my seat across the stage, I was inspired to hear a voice I respect reminding us all that it is never too late to get educated. Read, and not just the articles from your own echo chamber, but read both sides of the debate, and think for yourself about which ideals and philosophies can you guide your life. Which of these sides or choices can you make to bring more respect, prosperity and peace to all of our citizens? What ideals can help heal the wounds of our nation’s past and move forward in a more inclusive way? What can we do to bring back the concept of the truth?

“Just to illustrate, I think that all of our hope and desire for the truth, ya know?” Jim said. “It’s like where did the truth go? Somehow the truth is gone now, but we have to remember that it’s not gone. We just all have to work hard to say that, ‘No, it is raining outside. They can say that it’s not, but there is rain falling,’ it’s actually happening.”

It’s wonderful seeing Jim putting this effort into something that can make a difference in this country. Jim was clearly inspired by the session and is taking the concept on the road, with the announcement of the Future Is Voting Tour come to life.

Uniform Clarity In Conversation & Performance Finale

Ted Kartzman is a JamBase co-founder and current YouTube Music Independent Partnerships Manager. Uniform Clarity is available today via ATO Records. Midterm elections are being held on Tuesday, November 6. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. Your vote matters. Let’s not make the same mistakes over and over again.

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